People of the Philippines
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- People of the Philippines
The majority of Philippine people are descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands in successive waves over many centuries and largely displaced the aboriginal inhabitants. The largest ethnic minority now is the mainland Asians (called Chinese), who have played an important role in commerce for many centuries since they first came to the islands to trade. Arabs and Indians also traveled and traded in the Philippines in the first and early second millennium. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Asian mainland, Spanish, American, Arab, or Indian ancestry. After the mainland Asians, Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest minorities in the country.
More than 90 percent of the people are Christian as a result of the nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and in central and western Mindanao, and the mountain aboriginal groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes still live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.
About 87 languages and dialects are spoken, most belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are the first languages of more than 85 percent of the population. The four principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon, and Maranao and related languages spoken in Mindanao. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. Pilipino is taught in all schools and is gaining widespread acceptance across the archipelago. Many use English, Fukienese, or Mandarin as second languages. Nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers speak some English. In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Education to restore English as the medium of instruction in all schools and universities. Only a few Filipino families use Spanish as a second language.
The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the developing world. About 93 percent of the population 10 years of age and older are literate.
Education: Years compulsory--6 (note: 6 years of primary education free and compulsory; 4 years of secondary education free but not compulsory). Attendance--94% in elementary grades, 64% in secondary grades. Literacy--93.4%. Health: Infant mortality rate (2003)--29 per 1,000. Life expectancy (2005)--64.10 yrs. for males; 70.10 yrs. for females. Work force (2006): 35.79 million. Services (including commerce and government, 2005)--48%; agriculture--20%; industry--36%.